Ottawa Mission serves up more than 10,000 Easter meals

A steady line formed outside the Ottawa Mission for most of the day Monday, as people grabbed a hot meal from the shelter’s annual Easter dinner.

“This is my first meal of the day that I’m going to be eating,” said Mary, who did not provide a last name. She was one of many who stood in line just before 11 a.m.

The meal included roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, a baked potato and vegetables. Mary also grabbed a second container for her brother with disabilities, who was unable to make the trip.

The meal used to be held inside the shelter’s dining room, but the pandemic has forced the Mission to pivot.

“Now we are handing food out of the garage or food truck,” said chef Ric Allen-Watson, the Mission’s director of food services. “But we’re just happy we are able to do this.”

Over the long weekend, the Mission handed out 10,084 meals, four times the amount handed out in 2019. It’s a new record for the Ottawa Mission, as officials say they’ve seen an increase in demand as the pandemic continues.

Helping with the demand is a second food truck that can serve hot meals in several communities.

“We’ve seen our challenges amongst our population and the demand, incidents of hunger out there,” said Peter Tilley, CEO of Ottawa Mission. “Our food truck (program) had to have a second food truck, to take on 12 communities that weren’t otherwise being served.

Also on hand to give out loaves of bread, groceries, and even a few laughs, were members of the Ottawa Redblacks.

“Just cracking jokes enjoying the day, it’s been a blast,” said wide receiver Nate Behar, as he handed out hot chocolate to those waiting in line. “Hopefully give a little bit of love and cheer.”

The Ottawa Mission needs help beyond Easter. You can find ways to donate on their website

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